Toronto Raptors

Carlos and Vince

Carlos and VinceHere in the capital of the world (Toronto, in case you didn't know), all the sports talk has been about the "imminent" trade of our two biggest stars. If you excuse Mats, Ed and the gang on skates, Toronto's biggest sports stars are Carlos Delgado and Vince Carter.

Already this month I've written two entries essentially saying goodbye to Vince. The rumour mill was working overtime and it looked like he was on his way to Dallas. Now, nobody is sure of anything. It's entirely possible we're cheering Carter's name on opening night as he stays with the Raps. I'm hoping he does because players with his talent are few and far between.

Then, there's Carlos Delgado of my Toronto Blue Jays. Unlike Vince, there's no rumblings about how Carlos would like a trade and isn't happy. The problem here is strict economics. Delgado makes about 40% of the Blue Jays payroll and with our current budget we'll likely never compete with the Yankees and Red Sox of the world. Trading Carlos will free up some cash for some badly needed starting pitching. Still, I don't want him to go either as he's a fantastic ball player.

Here's my proposal to Rob Babcock and J.P. Ricciardi. Lets keep superstars like Vince Carter and Carlos Delgado in Toronto. Both have a number of good years ahead of them and both are assets to their respective clubs. Why would we want to see them play anywhere else? Keep 'em and sign Delgado again when his contract expires at the end of the season.

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The End of an Era?

The End of an Era?Is the Vince Carter era in Toronto coming to an end? The Raptors, Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks are involved in serious discussions on a three-way trade that would see Carter end up with the Mavericks, Antoine Walker move from Dallas to New York and at least two players go from the Knicks to the Raptors, according to a league source.

Earlier this month I shared my thoughts on the imminent trading of our one and only star player. The writing's on the wall and we have to accept it. Unfortunately, we won't get anything in return worth of Carter's up-side, but we haven't made the playoffs the past two seasons and it doesn't get much worse than that.

Stay tuned because I think we're in the final hours of the Vince Carter era in Toronto.

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Vin-sane

Vin-saneESPN is reporting that Vince Carter wants out of Toronto.

I suppose we all saw this coming. Vince has been complaining about everything in Raptorland for quite some time now. According to a league source, Carter is not happy with the hiring of Rob Babcock as the Raptors' new general manager nor with the selection of Rafael Arajuo with in last week's NBA draft. Now, Carter has asked for a trade and has even presented several different trade proposals to the Raptors.

We'll probably comply with his wishes because nothing is worse than a star who doesn't want to be there. This is why Antonio Davis had to go. We'll never be able to get equal value back, but in the end this might be for the best. Still, Vince is our star and it will hurt to watch him suit up for another team. This is Vin-sane.

Looking back at the Vince Carter era in Toronto, I'm proud to say I was there for his finest moment. His 51 points against the Suns in a come from behind victory remains a Raptors record and I was at the ACC to see it all unfold. It was awesome, Vince was awesome and like everything else, it too must end.

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T-Mac

T-MacT-Mac isn't happy and has been begging for a trade from the Orlando Magic. Executives from several NBA teams have said Orlando and the Houston Rockets are close to a deal sending McGrady to the Rockets for a package including Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley. It looks like T-Mac is getting his wish.

What exactly is the deal with T-Mac? He was drafted out of high school by my Raptors where he played his first three professional seasons. During his final year hear, we saw him emerge into a potential superstar. Vince Carter and T-Mac were an awesome 1-2 punch but T-Mac wasn't happy. He wanted to be the star and he jumped to the Magic upon becoming a free agent. I remember fellow Raptor fans pleading with T-Mac to stay in Toronto and resign with the Raptors. I remember how he teased us by insinuating he might stay when he had already made up his mind he was returning to his Florida home.

After four years with the Magic T-Mac wants out again and there's no doubt he'll be wearing another uniform come the fall. He's an awesome talent, but never happy. I'm sure in another few years I'll be writing about how T-Mac wants a trade from the Rockets.

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Farewell Kevin

Farewell KevinFarewell Kevin, we hardly knew thee. Reports indicate Toronto Raptors coach Kevin O'Neill will soon be gonzo as he and the club finalize a buyout of the final year of his contract.

If the Raptors lose one of their final two games, they will have lost 50 or more games two seasons in a row. Hell, I'm glad they're cleaning house. Grunwald is gone, O'Neill will be gone, the assistant coaches will be gone...I'd like to can that overly-enthusiastic Raptor mascot and that baldy announcing the players while we're at it. I'm tired of missing the damn playoffs.

"Change does not necessarily assure progress, but progress implacably requires change." - Henry Steele Commager

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Grunwald Fired

Grunwald FiredJust last weekend I expressed my frustration with the Toronto Raptors and reiterated the fact everyone is all too aware of, "Something's Got To Give". Today, something gave.

The Raptors have fired general manager Glen Grunwald, according to reputable sources. Former Detroit Pistons GM Jack McCloskey will take over Grunwald's duties on an interim basis.

We're currently 11th in the weak Eastern Conference and that's not nearly good enough. Grunwald has had seven years to produce a winner and he's failed. He's a great guy, and he made some good moves, but the end result is the only result that matters. Will Kevin O'Neill follow? If Vince Carter demands a trade, we'd better hope so. Now lets hope the new GM can pull a point guard and a center out of his hat.

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It. Is. Over.

It. Is. Over.Words won't accurately describe how frustrated I feel with regards to the Toronto Raptors. I almost wrote this post following the overtime loss to Houston a couple of games ago. Instead, I held off and placed the fate of our entire season on yesterday's game against the beat up Knicks. It was clear if we couldn't take out the Lenny Wilkens Knicks, we weren't making the playoffs.

Sure, Vince Carter played well. He really did. For a while, it looked like we'd even win. In the end, however, we lost by seven. Bye bye playoffs.

At the beginning of the season, I wrote the following: "I anticipate a dramatic turn around following a horrific injury riddled season last year. If Vince Carter can stay relatively healthy, a playoff position is a virtual certainty. With Lenny Wilkens out of the picture, we actually have a coach who will coach. There will be game plans and strategies implemented. I predict a sixth place finish in the Eastern Conference and an upset victory in the first round of the playoffs." Boy was I wrong.

Does Kevin O'Neill have to go? The Globe and Mail, citing multiple sources with ties to Vince Carter, suggested the Raptors' star would seek a trade during the off-season if O'Neill remains the team's coach. Does Glen Grunwald have to go? He's had plenty of time to build a winner yet here we are missing out again. As the Beastie Boys said, "Something's Got To Give". I'm way too frustrated.

And yes, I'm well aware we could still make the playoffs. Following last night's loss, we're two games out of eighth in the conference with two teams to leap frog. Trust me, you can put a fork in the 2003/2004 Toronto Raptors. They're done.

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The Real Lenny

LennyIt's been over a month now since Isiah Thomas hired Lenny Wilkens as coach of the New York Knicks. In my entry from that day, I openly laughed at Knicks fans. You see, I'm writing from experience. I watched him lead my Raptors for three seasons during which time he was 113-133. There was no leadership, no system and no coaching to speak of. Lenny's only play was to get the ball to Vince Carter. During his third season at the helm, not a day went by that I didn't pray for his firing.

After a 9-3 start for the Knicks under Lenny's rule, I was worried I'd have to eat crow. Today, as the Knicks come to town, I see they're 2-8 in their last ten games. It seems the ineffectiveness of Lenny Wilkens is creating the results I expected. And yes, I realize my Raptors are 1-9 in their last ten, but I blame Lenny for that too.

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Mr. Popular

Mr. PopularVince Carter received 2,127,183 votes and will once again start at forward for the Eastern Conference in the 53rd All-Star Game on February 15th. It is the fourth straight time Carter has been the league's top vote-getter. Michael Jordan and Julius Erving are the only others to receive the most votes at least three times.

Talk about Mr. Popular. His last two years have been injury plagued, yet he still received more votes than any other player in the league. More than Allen Iverson, more than Shaquille O'Neal and more than Yao Ming. I'm a huge Vince Carter fan, don't get me wrong, I was there when he single-handedly scorched the Suns by dropping in 51 in our first ever NBC game, but how is it that he remains this popular? He's not just popular, he's in Michael Jordon and Dr. J territory. He hasn't won an NBA championship, in fact, he's only won one playoff series ever, you can't claim he's the best player in the league and he doesn't play in a huge US market, he plays in Canada. It's miraculous when you think about it.

I'm happy for Vince and ecstatic as a Raptors fan, but his popularity astounds me.

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Not In-Vince-able

VinceI'm bracing myself for the worst. Vince Carter strained his right quadriceps in the first quarter of Thursday's 78-74 overtime win in New Orleans and is out of action listed as day-to-day. Carter is far and away our best player and having a pretty darn good season thus far for the Raptors. We've seen what happens when he's out of the line up for an extended period of time.

Vince Carter is starting to remind me a lot of Wendel Clark. Clark was the best player on the Maple Leafs but would miss large chunks of seasons with various ailments. He'd be missing for months at a time and then he'd return and score a hat trick. You always wondered what might have been had he remained healthy.

Last season, Carter was on the injured list three times and missed 39 games because of injuries to his left ankle, right knee and left quad. Two seasons ago, Carter missed 22 games because of injuries to his left knee, which required arthroscopic surgery, and to his left quad. I hope Carter only misses a few games with this latest strain and returns to lead us to the playoffs, but as I said, I'm bracing myself for the worst.

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